WASHINGTON – The Braves dropped out of first place, which they shared with the Mets for a day, with Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals.

Next up: A three-game series versus the Mets at Truist Park that will go a long way in deciding who wins the NL East.

Here are five observations on the Braves (97-59):

1. At one moment, CJ Abrams hit a ball into right field to score the winning run and send the Braves back to Atlanta with a loss.

Not long after, the Mets defeated the Marlins, knocking the Braves back to second place.

“We had a couple chances,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the loss. “Just couldn’t get a big hit.”

The Braves enter this weekend’s series one game behind New York. They can still win the division, but they must take the series first.

“Going into the series, we’re still feeling good, regardless of (losing),” Michael Harris said. “We’re just trying to go in there and take the series and win the rest of the games so we can get the first place in the East.”

The entire baseball world will turn its attention toward Truist Park this weekend. The NL East has been the sport’s most compelling race.

Everyone is ready.

“We still got to treat it as any other game,” Harris said. “We can’t try to up the stakes and (put) any pressure on ourselves. We’re just going to go out there and do what we’ve been doing and try to win.”

2. In the eighth inning, Harris and Dansby Swanson combined for the game-tying play.

With Swanson at second base, Harris hit a hard grounder toward the second baseman, who dove and stopped it. Harris’ speed, however, forced an errant throw that bounced away from the first baseman. Swanson’s speed became crucial as he turned on the jets and scored, despite the ball not going far away from the first baseman.

But the Braves’ offense was not good.

The only other run Atlanta scored came when Matt Olson launched a solo homer in the second inning. The Braves went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

The Braves couldn’t get the big hit.

“We always have faith in each other,” Harris said. “Anybody at the plate, we have faith in them. Tonight just didn’t work out, and we can’t dwell on that. We just have to look forward to the Mets.”

3. Josiah Gray pitched well against the Braves – again. Gray held Atlanta to a run, Olson’s homer, over six innings. He allowed only two hits.

In four career starts versus the Braves, Gray has surrendered five runs over 22 innings.

“I guess we don’t see him good or something,” Snitker said.

The Braves’ bullpen held Washington scoreless until Abrams hit a run-scoring single off Jackson Stephens – an unearned run because the runner who scored was the one who started at second base in the bottom of the 10th.

Nationals 3, Braves 2 (box score)

4. Jake Odorizzi did not make it four innings as Snitker pulled him after 3-2/3 innings. He allowed two runs – one earned (an Eddie Rosario error hurt him) – and walked three batters.

He was not happy with himself.

“Not how I wanted it to go,” Odorizzi said. “Just too many free passes. That’s the thing that’s been bothering me a lot, is just the execution of pitches. Stuff’s not the issue, it’s the location, it’s the execution. Just feel like I’m going through it right now. It’s a tough grind and I’ve just gotta keep going through, that’s about the only way. It’s frustrating for me.

“I feel like sometimes I’ve made pitches, they get hits. It’s baseball, at the end of the day – nothing’s ever going to go perfect. But it seems like when you’re going through it, you’re going through it.”

5. The pitching matchups this weekend are as follows:

Max Fried versus Jacob deGrom on Friday. Kyle Wright versus Max Scherzer on Saturday. Chris Bassitt versus Charlie Morton on Sunday.

Stat to know

5.66 - Odorizzi has a 5.66 ERA in nine starts since the Braves acquired him at the trade deadline.

Quotable

“I feel like it’s still the same as it is now. Really intense. Fans go at it all the time. It’s really chippy teams against each other and really good organizations. We’re still trying to go out there and do what we do. We can’t look at the past or what happened in the past.”-Harris, who grew up a Braves fan, on the rivalry with the Mets

Up next

Friday’s series opener versus the Mets is scheduled to begin at 7:20 p.m., with Fried and deGrom set to face one another.